Man shot by the Belarusian KGB worked for US software company | Belarus

A 31-year-old man who was shot dead by Belarusian security forces during a raid on an apartment block in the capital Minsk this week was an employee of the US software company Epam Systems, the company said.

Footage shown on state television showed plainclothes officers breaking open an apartment door and a man fired at them as they entered.

Belarusian authorities said KGB officials shot the man Tuesday after he opened fire on security forces, one of whom also died. A KGB statement said his wife had been arrested.

The Belarus Investigative Committee, which investigates serious crimes, said a 31-year-old man was “liquidated by counterfire” after defying police officers. Reuters has not been able to independently verify the testimony or footage of the incident, which was broadcast on Belarusian state television.

Troops loyal to President Alexander Lukashenko have violently cracked down on protests after a controversial election last year, including searches of apartment blocks they believed protesters were hiding in.

Lukashenko has been in power since 1994 and has resisted Western sanctions and opposition calls for resignation, calling the protesters criminals looking for violent uprisings.

The driving force behind the protests was the IT industry, which is mainly located in a state technology park on the outskirts of Minsk. The Belarusian founder of Epam signed an open letter demanding the release of prisoners and new elections.

Local media and a senior advisor to the exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya identified the man killed as Andrei Zeltser, an IT worker at Epam. A LinkedIn page by a man with the same name states that he has been with Epam since 2016.

“Although the person in question was not identified by any official source, we can confirm that the person reported in the media was an Epam employee,” said Epam. “The company has no information that the person ever had a different citizenship or other residence status outside of Belarus.”

Tsikhanouskaya previously described the incident as “a consequence of lawlessness in Belarus”. She added, “Our people no longer feel safe – even in their homes. The autocrat, who holds on to power through violence and terror, creates a confrontation between Belarusians. “

Belarusian KGB officials on Thursday arrested 50 people charged with insulting a government official or inciting social hatred after the incident, human rights group Viasna-96 said. “Apparently the arrests are related to comments in social media posts about the death of Andrei Zeltser and a KGB officer,” said the rights group. The Ministry of the Interior could not initially be reached for an opinion.

Lukashenko’s spokeswoman said the KGB officer’s death “will not go unpunished”.

The state news agency Belta reported, citing an MP, that the man was connected to the opposition movement. The KGB did not identify the man by name or occupation, but said he was a “terrorist” – the language it uses to describe protesters.

“I can’t say or think anything. I’m shocked, I don’t understand what’s going on, ”the Belarusian media company Nasha Niva quoted Zeltser’s mother-in-law as saying. “Andrei is a very good person, a wonderful son-in-law.

“Do I think Andrei is a terrorist? Of course not.”

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